It seems that the leaders of democratic nations have a lot in common these days. People have been growing more distant from the leaders who they once thought would be their saviours. Even US President Joe Biden follows the same fate as does our Prime Minister. Biden has even been called a cognitive disaster, by some of his meanest detractors. Even the American media now say that Covid-19 transformed America into a ‘gig economy’, which is not too far from the glaring truth of India, where Modi’s team has reduced India to an economy where people can only “pay bills.” The same is with Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom. Johnson seems to be gaining in unpopularity like once Modi used to gain in popularity. But of late Modi has changed. Not, of course, only in his looks but even in his stance as a leader of the largest democracy. But has Modi mellowed? Well, if the recent repeal of farm laws which created a furor in the country for over a year, is to be concerned then yes, Modi has surely bowed down to circumstances. Perhaps, Narendra Modi wants to leave a legacy that will be acceptable to the liberal truth – which is that you are only as good as the liberal world would want you to be.
As if to convince everybody, Modi made an intervention in Joe Biden’s ‘Summit of Democracy’, in which the US President raised the “alarm” that democracies were “backsliding” on democratic institutions worldwide. And Modi replied by insisting that countries should follow their “constitutional principles” and that tech companies like that of “Google Pichai” and “Twitter Aggarwal” should help preserve open societies. Now, Biden might not have heard laughs as the “interventions” were made in “closed door” and limited to 12 countries only. Biden, on his part, opened the first ‘Summit for Democracy’ and Modi made an intervention – one of a dozen leaders allowed to. Biden said democracies do not happen by “accident”, they have to be renewed “with each generation”, and because of that, it “is a defining challenge of our time.” Modi followed Biden and spoke of “following the principles enshrined in the Constitution.”
The Prime Minister of India called for reform of international institutions and said “principles of democracies should guide global governance.” After this statement, at least Modi made it clear that he considers his rule “democratic”. According to the Prime Minister and his team, farm laws, labor laws, CAA and NRC, and everything else, Modi is doing per democratic principles and nobody must point fingers at him. In defence of his model democracy, Modi spoke of India’s “civilisational” ethos which places India as the “source of democracy.” If Biden took that and moved on, then it must be because of the democratic spirit, respect for rule of law and pluralistic ethos ingrained in the Americans. Ask Rana Ayyub and Barkha Dutt and they will not laugh. The Indian government hasn’t stopped “harassing journalists”, but it has stopped journalists from covering Parliament, the seat of India’s democracy. So much for Modi’s democratic and constitutional principles!